Honda’s VFR, in various guises (most recently as the 800cc Interceptor), has sat atop the sport end
of the sport-touring spectrum for many years. Although Triumph has taken a bite out of VFR sales with
it’s Sprint ST (first introduced as a ’99 model), the VFR is lighter and sportier than the ST (which is
available with luggage – something lacking on the VFR). In other words, the ST doesn’t compete straight-up with
the VFR. Enter the 2000 Sprint RS.
At a measured 41 pounds lighter than the ST (weighed with it’s bags), and 9 pounds lighter than the VFR, the ST
sits at the far end of the sport-touring spectrum with the VFR. Considering the fact that the much heavier ST has
faired well in comparisons with the VFR, the far lighter ST, featuring the same torque-rich 955cc triple, stands a
good chance of out-performing the VFR in most objective, if not subjective, tests.
This Triumph motor has roughly the same peak horsepower as the VFR, but substantially greater torque. In a recent,
published dyno test, the RS put out approximately 98 horsepower (at 9500 rpm) and 65 ft/lbs of torque(at approximately
5,250 rpm) at the rear wheel. If you haven’t ridden a Triumph Triple, you’ve been missing something special. The
“distinctive wail” mentioned by virtually every tester is for real, and imparts a unique, and even enthralling, character
to the experience.
Another advantage is Triumph’s familiarity with this engine (shared not only with the ST, but with the Speed Triple, as
well). The fuel injection mapping is virtually perfect (after many, many changes by Triumph over the past two years). With
no dips in the power curve, the motor surges you forward authoritatively and electrically. I have ridden the Triumph Speed
Triple with this same motor, and I own an older Triumph Triple (a ’96 Trophy — which is carbureted).
This familiarity with the engine has bred, among other things, a Triumph after-market exhaust cannister (available in carbon
fiber) with another virtually perfect re-map of the fuel injection downloaded by your local Triumph dealer into the engine’s computer
chip. Thus, you have the advantages of an after-market cannister (which is louder to accentuate the sound, and roughly eleven pounds
lighter) packaged with a tested and tailored fuel re-mapping — a rarity among fuel injected bikes. We understand this package delivers
approximately 105 horsepower and 70 ft/lbs at the rear wheel.
At $9,499 (U.S. MSRP) the Sprint RS appears to be a relative bargain. Try to find a comparably performing European bike at any
where near this price. It is substantially cheaper than Aprilia’s Falco, for example, and will stomp any comparable Ducati with a motor
that is simply in a different league altogether. The two ride reviews we have seen indicate the RS is a superb handler and a screamer on
the street (able to wheelie off the throttle in lower gears). The only negative we see is a lack of adjustability in the suspension (something
available on Triumph’s new 600, for example).
We’ll try to catch a ride on the Sprint RS as soon as they are available in the U.S. to dealers, and we’ll report our findings.